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Methods in Earth and Planetary Science


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Charlie Underwood
  • Tutor: Helena Moretti
  • Assessment: coursework: data handling and processing (25%), geological map interpretation (25%) and summative map-based project (50%)

Module description

This module gives an introduction to practical Earth and planetary science. It starts with an introduction to geology as a science, looking at some historical landmark studies and how these can be seen in the light of the scientific method. From there the module covers a range of applied subjects that are critical to an understanding of the subject area, such as relevant maths and computing. The module will teach the interpretation of geological and other relevant forms of maps, and the relationships between geology in two and three dimensions. It concludes with a summary section bringing these topics together and introducing practical fieldwork techniques.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Earth and planetary science
  • Geometry of 2D and 3D shapes
  • Data use and presentation
  • Applied maths
  • Introduction to maps and spatial information
  • Introduction to geological maps
  • Geology and topography
  • Folded rocks
  • Faults, intrusions and unconformities
  • Constructing a geological map
  • Field and lab techniques

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand how the science of geology has progressed over time
  • have the knowledge and experience to use simple mathematical methods within different parts of the subject
  • have a working and practical knowledge of the use of computer spreadsheets and graphics to enable further work within the subject
  • be able to interpret topographic and geological maps and relate the geology seen on maps to its three dimensional structure
  • have the skill to be able to safely and productively carry out fieldwork, and record observational and numerical data in the field.